Writing Tips

BRENDA — CLASS AND COURAGE
By E. F. Watkins

I rode up the center line of the dressage arena and saluted the judge with more confidence than I’d ever felt in a show ring. Yes, I’d memorized and practiced the training level test, but more important, I totally trusted my mount...
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HOW TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE
By E. F. Watkins

You’ve published a novel, gotten a short story into a prestigious anthology or won a prize in a contest, and you want to publicize your success. Or maybe you need to get out the word about a reading you’re giving at your local bookstore. The best way to do this is to compose a press release and circulate it to the media. Here are some tips to help you get results…
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FLABBY MIDSECTION? FIRM IT UP!
By E. F. Watkins

It’s an experience even the seasoned novelist dreads: Your book seems to be chugging down the track you’ve laid, unstoppable as a locomotive, when suddenly…it derails. Or even more pathetically, it just runs out of steam. Don’t be too quick to throw in the towel. There are usually reasons why a book-in-progress falls apart in the middle, and ways of salvaging the situation…
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ORGANIZE YOUR MATERIAL
By E. F. Watkins

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a novel is organizing the background material. Some of your best ideas may occur when you’re far from your computer, and you’ll probably jot them on whatever scraps of paper come in handy. How can you keep track of all these elements so you can find them when you need them?
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ARE MYSTERIES HEADED OUT OF THIS WORLD?
By E. F. Watkins

It used to be that whodunit fans prided themselves on their rationality and frowned on plots that included supernatural twists. If a ghost showed up, it had to be explained away as a trick by the villain to cover up a very earthbound crime. Meanwhile, horror fans cared more about atmosphere and scares than complex, tightly woven plots. Over the past couple of decades, though, both mystery and horror writers have grown restless with the restrictions of their categories…
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WRITE AROUND THE BLOCK
By E. F. Watkins

We’ve all heard of “writer’s block,” and too many of us have experienced it first-hand. It can occur in a short story or a novel. It can stall us at the beginning or, more likely, somewhere in the middle. You may decide your whole idea stinks, or that you have no talent. While either of these things could be true, chances are your story can be salvaged…
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THE EXTREME FICTION MAKEOVER
By E. F. Watkins

If you’re at all serious about writing fiction, you accept the idea that rewriting comes with the territory. You write something new, set it aside for a while to get some psychological distance, then rewrite it. You repeat as needed, until it’s polished enough to send out to an agent or editor.

I do that with every novel, but I’ve also done something else. You could call it the Extreme Makeover rewrite…
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